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House begins debate on bill to extend jobless benefits

By Deirdre Walsh, CNN Congressional Producer
  • House beginss debate on jobless benefits extension
  • Measure would be retroactive, making some eligible for payments from end of May
  • House-approved extension in larger package stalled in Senate

Washington (CNN) -- The House of Representatives Tuesday began debate on a bill to extend jobless benefits through the end of November.

The measure would make the benefits effective retroactively, allowing those who may have been cut off from unemployment insurance at the end of May to collect those federal payments.

The House already approved an extension of unemployment benefits in a larger package last month that also included an extension of health care insurance for the unemployed and some popular tax breaks, but that package is stalled in the Senate.

"We believe that passing unemployment insurance is critical for individuals, for families, for communities, for the country and for the economy," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, said at his weekly session with reporters.

The bill costs $34 billion in new deficit spending, which the Democrats say does not need to be offset because they consider jobless benefits an emergency expense.

Senate Democratic leaders have opposed a separate bill extending jobless benefits, instead favoring the larger package, which has failed to get the 60 votes needed for Senate approval. If the House approves the measure, it's unclear if the Senate will vote on it before Congress leaves at the end of the week for the scheduled July 4th congressional recess.